Our neighbor, Mario, was a rather sarcastic and jovial Italian prankster who lived right next door. And upon learning of my mother's frustration, he took it upon himself to throw it in her face on a daily basis. "Hey Arlene, how's your little baby tomato doing' today?" he'd laugh with a cigarette dangling from his lip. "Hey... You know what da papa tomato say to da baby tomato? He say, youbeddah hurry and ketchup! Ha Ha Ha! Get it?"
"Yeah, I get it!" she sneered, "And you're going to get it right in the face when this tomato comes in. Just WAIT!"
The battle between the two went on for quite some time; him snickering behind curtains in his living room, her making good use of the most prominent finger on her hand. Then one morning, while peeking out of her bedroom window, she saw it; the most brilliant shade of red that her eyes had ever seen, glowing from her tiny garden. "Oh my God! Oh my God! I can't believe it!" She flew down the stairs and out of the basement door before anyone else even knew she was up. "Oh my God! There it IS!" she cheered, while reaching down to pick her prize tomato. And just as she was about to give a proud tug, a tiny red thread began blowing in the wind.
"What the hell?"
It wasn't the tomato she had been working so desperately to produce. It was a store-bought replication tied directly to the vine with what appeared to be some sort of red thread. She didn't know whether to laugh or cry at her loss, but when she heard the steady chuckle of our cynical neighbor echoing through the yard, I'm pretty sure she wanted to put that tomato in a dark place that had its own fertilization. But instead, she chose to laugh along in harmony because deep down she knew she'd have the last laugh...
And knowing my mother, I'm sure she did.
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